The nation’s most famous tent was pitched in the grounds of Welford Park once again. Presenters Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas returned to lead the latest batch of 11 bakers through brand new challenges set by Judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith.
In Tuesday’s night’s episode of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, Maxy was named Star Baker and Maisam 18 from Greater Manchester was the second baker to leave the tent.
It was week two in the tent and for our remaining bakers that meant crunch time in Biscuit Week. They kicked off with illusion macarons. Next, the bakers had to produce a fruity favourite in the technical. Finally, in the showstopper, they put their creativity to the test by making a dramatic 3D mask made entirely from biscuits.
At the end of the second episode Matt announced that Maxy was the Star Baker. Noel followed with the difficult job of announcing the person leaving the tent this week is Maisam. On the show Maisam said: ‘I think I am definitely feeling proud as I am only 18 so this is not the end of my baking journey - this is where it starts!’
Biography - Maisam, 18
Greater Manchester Student & Sales Assistant
Originally from Libya, Maisam has lived in the UK since she was nine. She speaks five languages (English, Arabic, Amazigh, Spanish and Turkish) aims to make that seven by the time she turns 20. Maisam has a strong creative streak, spending her spare time photographing still-lifes and the world around her. She has been baking since she was about 13 years old, and she loves the science required to get a bake right – often trying something multiple times until it is perfect. Her favourite flavours are inspired by her Mediterranean heritage – she loves the tang of olives, the sweetness of dates and the nuttiness of sesame seeds.
Here Maisam talks about her experience: ‘I have learned so much from being in the tent! This experience has been a complete learning journey that taught me so much from new baking skills and tips to actually challenging myself to bake in an unfamiliar baking environment. I can definitely say that this experience has been life-changing because it has taught me to dream bigger and never underestimate baking because it can definitely take you places.
‘One of my favourite moments was probably when the judges were tasting my house cake and Prue said that I changed the flavour of blueberries and Paul said he really liked the flavour (rose, lemon and blueberries) combination of my cake and he hasn't tasted anything like it before - that made me so happy. Also when Prue said that she loved the design of my 3D mask and that if she saw the design on a plate she would actually buy it. My worst moment would definitely be when my name was announced and I didn't make it to bread week which was my favourite week.
‘My favourite challenge was probably creating the 3D mask because I got to use my artistic skills as well as baking. I was just so calm and relaxed in that challenge and definitely enjoyed every bit of it. My worst challenge has to be the biscuit week technical I really didn't like it, it made me dislike garibaldi biscuits!
‘I had so many funny moments in the tent, I was just so clumsy in the there and in one of the challenges I dropped a full jar of desiccated coconut and Paul walked past my bench and saw the mess that I made and laughed. Matt and Noel were so funny as well I really enjoyed having them around the tent. But also being surrounded by the other bakers who were all quite funny, and we used to turn around to each other and make jokes.
‘Working with the production team definitely gave me an insight into how incredible the people behind this amazing show are, what I loved is that everyone worked together as a family. The production team were just so supportive and kind that I felt so loved and cared for throughout my time in the tent.
‘I don’t know what’s next for me in the baking world, but I am ready to let baking change my life and ready to take on so many new challenges. At some point, I hope to have a baking book that combines my love for languages and different cultures, a book that tells a story about how amazing baking is around the world. I want to continue in the food TV world, I’ve always dreamed of having a baking show which is something that I would want to achieve at some point in my baking Journey.
‘But I know I will take with me some unforgettable memories and a life-changing experience! Also I will take with me 11 new amazing friends and one big Bake Off family!
Maisam will join Jo Brand and Tom Allen on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday 23 September on Channel 4 at 8.00 pm.
*How much did you practice at home before going into the tent and how did you juggle that with life and work?
The weeks before going into the tent were quite hectic and full of baking, I enjoyed going to the supermarket and walking out with 10 blocks of butter. I basically became a full-time baker - I was spending most of my time in the kitchen. Some days I had uni in the morning, and then I would come home and start practising again. Overall the practising process has been a bit chaotic and stressful but also enjoyable. I got to experiment with many different flavours and bakes that I had never made before. But what I realised is that baking in the tent and baking at home are just so different.
*How big is your love of baking and how many hours would you bake a week?
I would say my love for baking grows the more I bake. If I am at home I will most likely be baking. Baking is just so special to me it is something that not only makes me feel better but what I love about baking is that it brings joy to everyone and how a little cake can make someone's day is just so special. I find the process of baking very fascinating as well as the science behind it (although I hate science haha)
*What did you enjoy most about filming and what did you miss most about being away from home
I collected so many unforgettable memories throughout the process. I really enjoyed spending time with the other bakers and being surrounded by the amazing production team. Being the youngest this year was definitely an extra challenge for me but I felt very loved which was a very special feeling. I got to see what it takes to produce this incredible show and that made me admire how hard everyone works and how much effort goes into this thing!! I missed my family and my kitchen as well, it was hard because it was the very first time being away from my family by myself.
*Did you pack a lucky item for your stay?
I packed with me a little lucky item that my little sister gave me which was a small cuddly toy. That little toy made me feel stronger and it was almost like having my sister there with me!
*During the filming time when you were away from home, where did you say you were to friends?
I like to keep things top secret and I also love surprising my friends so I said that I am going away with my family for a bit for something exciting, I am excited for them to see me on TV, I think it will be a big unexpected surprise for them.
*Can you describe the bakers as a group this year, and are you all on a what’s app group?
Oh, where do I start…the bakers this year are an incredible bunch! All very different: different backgrounds, different baking styles but somehow we have all got on really well and everyone is just so caring and amazing in their own ways. I feel so lucky to have met these incredible human beings! We also message each other literally every single day on our what’s app group chat, the group chat consists of baking, food, memes and more memes.
*How nervous were you when Paul and Prue started judging the first signature challenge and how did it feel when they judged the technical challenge?
I literally felt very very very nervous, for me it was such an extraordinary moment a moment that felt like a dream for sure! It was also very weird being that close to them and having my own bake between us. I can definitely say that was one of the hardest moments in the tent for me, especially after a very nerve-racking first signature challenge.
*Is Paul Hollywood scary in real life and how did you cope with the blue-eyed stare?
Yes for sure! He did look quite intimidating the very first time I saw him. However, he is actually nicer and friendlier than I expected. And any critiques helped me to learn some useful baking tips from him.
*Having watched Bake Off in the past, was the first day in the tent what you expected?
Absolutely not! Watching the tent and being in the tent are two very different things. As a viewer, you see a tent with a few bakers baking their way through the show but in reality, that tent has way more people behind the cameras working so hard. In a few words, my first day in the tent was emotional, chaotic, nerve-racking but dreamy.
*If you could travel back in time what year/decade would you like to go back to and why
If I were to travel back in time I would probably choose to travel to the year 1683 which was the year that croissants were first invented and I would meet the genius that has created this absolutely delicious creation. I would also see how he created the very first croissant and learn from him.
*What was it like having the team clean up for you after all your bakes. Did you feel guilty if you made a mess?
Oh, I felt terrible…especially after some incredibly messy baking. For me, my least favourite part about being in the kitchen is cleaning up so I felt very grateful for their help and I have so much respect for them because it is definitely not easy at all!
*Who is your baking inspiration and at what age did you start baking?
I started baking when I was about 13, because throughout my childhood I was always surrounded by the most incredible inspiring bakers : my grandmas, my aunts and of course my mum who is my biggest baking inspiration. They have all inspired me to make my own creations and just have fun with baking. My baking journey has been so special and challenging. I started off not knowing how to make a simple cake and now I have made it on Bake Off! I never thought not even in a million years that Bake Off would be part of my baking journey. And that's what I love about baking it can definitely transport you. As well as my family, youtube and Pinterest have helped so much with my baking that's where I learnt most of the baking.
*The Bake Off family is a very exclusive club, how do you feel now being a new member?
I feel honoured and just so lucky to be part of this spectacular family!
*The warmth and love you get in the Tent is a very special feeling, what is the nicest thing in baking you have done for anyone/or given them
With baking you can definitely create magic and making people happy is one of them. Last year I baked a cake for my Spanish class to celebrate everyone’s hard work, I baked a lemon cake and I remember how happy everyone was with the cake and they even said that I should apply for Bake Off.
* What is the cake you get asked to make the most for friends and family?
It would probably be the blueberry swiss roll cake that I make which my family love and they always ask me to make it for them. Not cake but my family say that I make the best pide bread apparently haha so that's another thing that I make quite often for my family.
*If you were a cake topper what would you be and why?
If I were a cake topper I would probably be a little yellow smiley star, yellow is my favourite colour it is a colour that just gives good positive energy and I love to smile.
*On a Bake Off Island you are allowed to take one utensil – what would it be?
That’s a very hard decision hmm… A bake-off island would probably have every baking utensil that a baker could dream of. But I would probably take my lovely bench scraper because I use it for literally everything it is always with me in the kitchen I use it to cut dough, smooth a cake and much much more.
*In three words how would you describe yourself?
Ambitious, creative and indecisive
*And how would your friends describe you?
My friends would usually say that I am kind, chatty, caring, adventurous, always have big goals and always full of surprises!
*Are there any spices or flavours that you really dislike? and why…
I really don’t like cardamom I find that it is too strong for me and growing up I never liked marzipan.
*When baking in the kitchen at home what music do you have on in the background, or is it just the hum of the fridge?
I think it really depends on what I am baking, but in general, I am a quiet baker that loves a nice and peaceful baking environment with no distractions. Usually, if I am making cakes the kitchen would be very very quiet however if I am making bread I love a bit of background music so you would usually hear some Turkish or Spanish music playing in the background.